Richmond Hill student sends holiday cheer to those feeling down due to COVID-19 pandemic

·3 min read

Youth Here for Tomorrow is a youth-led, non-profit organization created by Yewon (Joanna) Moon, a sophomore at St. Theresa of Lisieux in Richmond Hill, back in July of 2020.

The organization’s mission is to empower youth in the York region-area to make an impact in their community.

“Our last project was a mask drive, in which many high school students in the GTA participated in making fabric masks,” Moon said.

Thanks to a $1,000 grant from Passion to Purpose, approximately 700 masks were distributed among people who can't easily access personal protective equipment, such as discharged patients and hospital visitors. Moon and her team also sent some masks to the Food Bank of York Region and Michael Garron Hospital.

Since the lockdown began in March, Moon said she had a hard time adjusting to the new regulations and was feeling lonely and down.

Before creating this project, Moon personally wrote a letter to a resident at an elderly home. “While writing the letter, I felt surprisingly comforted and cheerful. When I received a letter from the resident, I could feel the joy and excitement through their writing.”

It is for this reason, Moon decided to launch a new project called "Happy Holiday Notes" to send holiday cheer to patients, health-care workers, the elderly, and the homeless who may feel isolated due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Moon believes that for those who are affected by extreme loneliness, receiving a personal, jolly note could bring smiles to their faces — especially during this holiday season when many people cannot spend time with their loved ones.

With York Region having entered the grey "lockdown" restrictions on Dec. 14, Moon is encouraging people in the community to take five minutes to write a quick note to those in York region feeling down due to the pandemic.

“Because each letter is an opportunity to share our love and happiness with those who are isolated and lonely,” she said.

Happy Holiday Notes is still new to a lot of people, so Moon hasn’t received many notes, but she has made many connections with different facilities.

To prevent the spread of germs, some facilities only allow virtual notes via email while others accept physical notes that could be mailed in. Moon has managed to got permissions from Trillium Health Partners, Chartwell Retirement Residences, Youth Without Shelter, Belinda's Place, etc., saying they are willing to share the messages in their main rooms.

“Once we receive a good number of notes, we are planning to make an esthetic collage that is easy to read. As for the physical notes, we will be printing out the notes into small cards and disinfecting them before we send them.”

The deadline for the project is Jan. 10, however, if you'd like to simply send a note of encouragement and support, YHFT is accepting messages any time.

For more information, please visit YHFT’s website at youthhft.wixsite.com/home. More specifically, you can send your message at youthhft.wixsite.com/home/send-holiday-notes.

Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun